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Driver Involved in Fatal Head-On Crash in Goleta May Have DUI Record

Motorist with same name, age arrested in Orange County on Oct. 30 on suspicion of DUI

The alleged driver in a wrong-way collision on Highway 101 that killed two Goleta residents was being held Monday in Santa Barbara County Jail on $100,000 bail. Richard Lawrence Rodriguez, 20, of Tustin, faces felony charges of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs causing injury and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

It may not have been his first DUI arrest.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department confirmed Monday that a Richard Lawrence Rodriguez, 20, was arrested by the California Highway Patrol on Oct. 30 in Westminster for misdemeanor driving under the influence. The charge involves driving a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol and having a blood alcohol content of .08 or above.

Rodriguez was booked by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department about 3:20 a.m. and was “cited and released,” meaning he was released after sobering up, department spokesman John McDonald told Noozhawk. According to booking information, he was released about noon and had no bail amount.

The CHP did have checkpoints that evening, because it was Halloween weekend, but McDonald said it’s possible officers just pulled him over at that time of the morning. Since no injuries were caused, it was a misdemeanor charge and there was not a reason to hold him, he said.

Neither the Santa Barbara County nor Orange County district attorney’s offices could confirm that it was the same Richard Rodriguez. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office told Noozhawk that Rodriguez has past traffic citations on his record but prosecutors said they had no knowledge of the Oct. 30 arrest.

Rodriguez was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail after being medically cleared from Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, Sheriff’s Department spokesman Drew Sugars said Monday. Rodriguez’s injuries from the collision were not life-threatening, he said.

Authorities said Rodriguez was driving north on southbound Highway 101 about 1:17 a.m. Sunday when the vehicle, a Mitsubishi Montero, collided head-on with a Honda Accord with four occupants, just south of Storke Road.

The front passenger of the Accord, Macrina M. Ocampo, 58, of Goleta, was pronounced dead at the scene by county firefighters. The car’s driver, Marcos A. Arredondo, 18, of Goleta, and the two other passengers were transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, where Arredondo died. The two passengers, Arredondo’s teenage sisters, Karina and Yessika, are hospitalized with severe injuries, officials said.

Authorities said Arredondo was following his parents, who were in another car just ahead of him as the family returned to Goleta from Lompoc. His parents swerved out of the way of the oncoming vehicle, which struck Arredondo’s car.

The crash is the second fatal wrong-way driving collision on Highway 101 in the past month and a half. On Sept. 23, a man driving a Verizon truck hit five vehicles as he headed south in the northbound lanes and crashed near El Sueno Road.

Jose Raul Reyes Vega, 49, of Goleta, was killed and several people were injured. That crash is still under investigation.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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